THE MASTER MANAGER by Ralph G. H. Siu

THE MASTER MANAGER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Yin-Yang of Douglas Aircraft and other insinuating thoughts on the art, not the science, of management (""always decisive when it comes to the 'BIG' decisions""). Liu's model is Chinese baseball: after the ball leaves the pitcher's hand and as long as it's in the air, ""anyone can move any of the bases anywhere."" To help managers adjust similarly to circumstances, he offers ten principles or precepts, amplified by examples drawn from history, legend, and every field of human endeavor. ""Heed the Context"" rings in Chase Manhattan's buttering-up lunches for government officials, Gandhi's ""self-inflicted hunger as a prime instrument of political control over the masses,"" University of Cincinnatti President Warren Bemis' recognition that ""I had become the victim of a vast, amorphous, unwitting conspiracy to prevent me from doing anything whatever to change the status quo."" ""Operate in Phase with the Yin-Yang"" means, as regards Douglas' rise (via the DC-3) and fall (at the onset of the jet age), that one should ""stay in consonance. . . with the cycles"": ""adopt a holding posture and await a favorable turn."" These antidotes to rigidity and dogmatism are followed by a discussion of ten specific pitfalls, from ""Assuming One Has the Facts"" to ""Shying Away From Threats and Crises."" (Apropos of not ""Fostering Discontinuities""--and in particular of avoiding internal ruptures--Liu cites Walter Cronkite's last-minute decision to go along with his staff writer and say ""Muhammad Ali,"" not ""Cassius Clay."") Then, to break away from lists and categories, to ""catch the instant on a wing,"" he provides an almanac of 366 mini-case-studies, each capped by a proverb. January 3 brings us Chaplin's 1941 refusal of the New York Film Critics Award for his performance in The Great Dictator (""A good drum does not require hard beating""); February 3 was the day in 1936 that John Maynard Keynes took time from his writings and other duties to open the Arts Theater in Cambridge, which he had helped found (""If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a flower""). In the context of Chaplin's then-anti-elitism and Keynes' long patronage of the arts, these actions are unremarkable; but they are suggestive. And so--much more than the standard management manual--is Liu's ingratiatingly undoctrinaire book.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Wiley